The Domaine Carneros château is a California wine country landmark. Inspired by the classic 18th century Château de la Marquetterie in Champagne, France – home of Champagne Taittinger – the Domaine Carneros château was completed in 1989.
Situated atop a knoll surrounded by estate, the château brings to Carneros the elegant style of the French wine country. With its grand staircase, formal gardens, expansive outdoor terraces, marble-floored fireside salon and breathtaking views of vine-covered hills, it is an incomparably royal setting for savoring fine sparkling and still wines.
We were sat at a beautiful table on the terrace overlooking their incredible property. Domaine Carneros is known for their estate sparkling wine and Pinot Noir.
Their sparkling sampler consisted of 4 different varietals Ultra Brut, Estate Brut Cuvee, Brut Rose and Vermeil Demi- Sec. What a divine way to start the day?! Sparkling wine and spectacular views.
(Home | Domaine Carneros, 2020)
Javier insisted we stop on the side of the road for some great photo opps. We are so happy we did! The Hills are Alive! A fun memory and some great photos.
Winery Stop 2 – The Donum Estate, Sonoma
An experience like no other. As you pull into the estate you’re greeted by a giant head sculpture, “Sanna” and you just knew the next few hours would be something special. The land starts in the heart of Carneros, nestled along the rolling hills near the San Pablo Bay, and winds toward the sandy soils of the Russian River Valley, before continuing up toward the coastal landscape of Mendocino’s Anderson Valley. Geographically, each area reveals its own unique microclimate, featuring wind, fog or cold, maritime air, that makes for ideal grape-growing conditions. Historically, the regions that make up the 200-acre Donum Estate are also steeped in stories you’ll savor over curated sips.
Donum Estates is where the wine meets art and they live harmoniously. This special property is sprinkled with over 40- large scale, open-air sculptures. Many of the pieces were curated in collaboration with Donum’s owners and the artists.
We were escorted to our gorgeous private room overlooking the estate accompanied by our cute friend Poncho [picture]. Three of the four walls opened up allowing us to enjoy a lovely breeze. The table settings were preset with an interesting presentation for the food pairing. Each wine was paired with a small bite, which was creatively put together for us to prepare on our own as an interactive experience. [insert picture] In pre-pandemic times these courses would have been served, but for all of us these challenging moments have provided new opportunities to be creative.
The wines were spectacular, and their food pairings were perfect.
2017 Russian River Valley Estate Chardonnay
citrus vegetable medley, crème fraiche parsley, basil oil
2017 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
roasted mushroom and cream cheese rillette, smoked her salt
2016 Carneros Estate Pinot Noir
crispy copa cured meat, toma cheese, pickle reslish
2015 Russian River Estate Pinot Noir
red onion wine jam, speice coated and toasted walnuts
After sipping on these luscious wines, we were taken on a guided walking tour through carefully curated gardens and a portion of their sculpture collection. WOW. Here is just a snapshot of some of our tour. Highly recommend taking the time to visit Donum Estate and enjoy all thoughtful beauty it brings.
Winery Stop 3 – Porter Family Vineyards
Porter Family Vineyards are located in south eastern hills of Napa, in Coombsville. Like much of Napa, Coombsville is blessed with generous amounts of sunshine, yet cooled by the breezes from San Pablo Bay.
The vineyards are the ideal conditions for grape growing. The soils here are a mix of clay loam and volcanic derivatives. The grape vines, terraced to follow the contours of the gracefully arching hills, are 600 feet above the valley floor, and look out over the breathtaking terrain of Napa. They carefully tend to 14 acres, gently coaxing only 2 to 3 tons per acre so that each of the vine’s berries get enough of our sunshine and water to grow into deliciously concentrated fruit. Most of the land is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Cabernet Sauvignon loves the conditions — as do the other famous Bordeaux varietals–Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
(Porter Family Vineyards, 2020)
Kathleen chose this special stop specifically because they are best known for their winery in a Cave. In the center of the vineyard lies a prominent hill. Within the walls of that hill, fifty feet underground, lies a 17,000 square foot winery. The only clue that anything even exists here are the two entrances that can be seen above the ground.
Unfortunately, upon being greeted we learned we would not be able to see the winery cave due to the COVID guidelines.
515 feet long
17,000 square feet
Four fermentation bays with a total capacity of forty 500 gallon fermentation tanks
Two 1500 gallon blending tanks
Two 3000 gallon blending tanks
Two storage bays
In-cave wine library
Although disappointed, our hosts were more than hospitable. The views, gardens and the entire Porter family property were stunning , and the wines absolutely delicious.
We were presented with four luscious blends on the back porch of the Porter’s home which overlooked a hillside vineyard – it was breathtaking! Napa is truly remarkable. To be completely transparent this was our last stop in the afternoon and we were feeling quite special (also part of the Napa experience). This tasting did not get recorded like the others, but each of the four wines were more flavorful than the next and paired with CHOCOLATE! An incredible way to end the most magical day.
After we all had a much-needed nap we walked down the street to Michael Chiarello’s Bottega, Napa Valley. Bottega’s menu showcases Italian cuisine with dishes drawn from every region of the country. We enjoyed every bite on their beautiful, rustic patio.